Accountancy and financial management

Sector menu

BDO intern Emma

What to expect as an intern at BDO

Emma Simpson is a junior tax associate at BDO. She studied chemistry at Durham University and is now studying towards CTA qualification. We asked Emma five key questions about her internship.
It is very important to be able to explain complicated concepts in a clear and effective way to clients.

1. What was the application process for the internship like?

After the earlier stages of the application process, the assessment centre was the biggest and final challenge. Although I was nervous, I had a clear idea of what the job involved and the reasons I wanted the internship. This meant I was able to talk confidently about why I’d be a good fit for the role and I actually found the day to be a very enjoyable experience. I particularly liked being able to meet people who worked at the firm, both during the interviews and meeting the graduates at lunch. I enjoyed hearing their views on their work and the firm.

2. What did your internship involve?

The internship lasted six weeks over the summer holidays. The first week was a residential training course in Birmingham. This allowed all the interns to get to know each other and learn about the firm, as well as providing us with a general introduction to the principles of tax. After that first week, we received training through various different projects and tasks in a wide range of different areas.

3. What sort of support did you receive during the internship?

We were given a buddy and a counselling manager for the duration of the internship. The buddy was a graduate who would be our first port of call if we needed any assistance. They explained how the office systems and software worked to enable us to carry out our assigned work. Our counselling managers were there to explain what was expected of us and to provide us with feedback on our performances at the end. We could also go to them for support and guidance if we needed.

We were given a booklet when we started the internship to collect feedback from the managers we worked with; we discussed this feedback with our counselling managers at the end of the internship to consider our strengths and areas for development. Managers also gave us informal feedback throughout our projects.

4. What did you gain from the internship?

As my first office job, the internship provided me with a number of the skills that I now use every day in my job. In particular, I learned:

  • how to balance my workload and prioritise certain tasks.
  • how to interact with clients and communicate with managers and colleagues in order to agree timescales and expectations in respect of the required outcome.
  • a number of technical skills, including calculations of tax and report writing.

What surprised me most about my internship is how important communication and client interaction are in finance; while the calculations and numerical side are a big part of the job, it is also very important to be able to explain complicated concepts in a clear and effective way to clients.

5. What advice would you give to students looking for finance internships?

  • Don’t keep your search too narrow; there are a lot of different roles in finance so it’s worth finding the right one for you.
  • Speak to people in the industry as it's the best way to find out what is actually involved in particular roles.
  • During the internship, speak to as many people as possible and get experience in a good range of areas.
  • Keep a record of the work you have done and what you have learned from it so you can speak confidently about your experience.